ENDING WORLD POVERTY
The picture above has touched me deeply. I feel as if I have spent my life just thinking and not "doing".
My thoughts were triggered once again, when I was informed in a passing comment by my sister, who was so enthusiastic about her new chauffeuring business in Central London. She exclaimed in reference to a millionaire that she knows, "Do u know he pays £55,000 a week to stay in this apartment ?!''
My mind keeps thinking about this millionaire that my sister referred to, how does he sleep at night? How do any of us sleep at night?
Why have we failed to eradicate third world debt- what is really going on? WHY is this happening, when there is enough wealth around to feed every single person 100 times over?
I'm wondering if I had been wealthy, what would I do? Where would I start? Or would being so rich make me greedy too? How am I to know if I haven't been there?
Here I turn to verses in the Quran which are reminders to us all......
''Give to the near of kin his due, and also to the needy and the wayfarers. Do not squander your wealth wastefully; for those who squander wastefully are Satan's brothers, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.'' (Quran 17:26 - 27)
"Indeed, the men who practice charity and the women who practice charity and [they who] have loaned Allah a goodly loan - it will be multiplied for them, and they will have a noble reward."
We as Muslims, have a duty to stand up against injustice and oppression, as the Quran confirms. Poverty is a form of oppression. Therefore, we have to give and donate as much as we can to the needy (Muslims and non Muslims) everywhere in the world.
However, donating is not enough, we also have to defend the rights of those who are oppressed everywhere. We have to be politically active and make sure that our politicians are aware that we will not tolerate exploiting other nations. We should voice our opposition to corporations that are predatory and unethical. We have to take part in raising awareness of the plight of our brothers and sisters in humanity, who suffer from poverty and oppression.
“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.” Quran (9:71) Yusuf Ali’s translation.
Political activism can really change the world. If citizens of conscience apply enough pressure on governments, we can make a significant change. Jeffrey Sachs (who was described by New York Times Magazine as probably the most important economist in the world) calculated that to end extreme poverty worldwide in 20 years, the total cost per year would be about $175 billion. This represents less than one percent of the combined income of the richest countries in the world. In fact, this cost is 0.7% of the total income of the 30 countries who comprised the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in 2005 when Sachs wrote The End of Poverty.
It is worth noting that the military budget in the USA is about $680 billion per year. The US spends in one year on its industry of war and destruction, almost four times the amount of money needed to end world poverty categorically.
The US is more interested in invading and murdering innocents in illegal wars, than in ending global poverty. It is not just the US government that is hypocritical in that regard, most governments are complicit in this tragedy, however, the US record of war crimes, illegal wars and invasions remains one of the worst, if not the absolute worst.
Let’s not forget, the American government’s support of despicable dictators, its funding of the atrocities and massacres committed by Israel, its record of toppling democratically elected leaders and its long history of bloody intervention which claimed the lives of millions.
We can participate in campaigns; lobby our politicians; mobilize and raise awareness. When it comes to donating, we should do our best to make sure that our money is going to the most efficient charities. The Charity Commission website gives valuable insights into how charities manage their incomes. You can compare the efficiency of different charities by looking at their finances. Enter the charity name in the search box, you will be able to see graphs representing the financials of the charity. I think that looking at the Charitable Spending graph could be very useful as it shows 3 components as follows:
1. Income generation and Governance: This basically means the amount of money that this particular charity has spent on salaries of its own staff, in addition to activities aiming to raise funds e.g. promotional, advertisements, mail campaigns etc.
2. Charitable Spending: This is the actual amount spent on the poor and needy.
3. Retained for future use.
When comparing charities, you might need to consider the percentage spent on Income Generation and Governance.
Needless to say, that by fulfilling your duty by helping the oppressed, there are benefits for yourself - both in this world and in the hereafter.